DePaul Ready for a Turnaround in Florida
Feb. 21, 2013
CHICAGO - The Blue Demons will be looking for an immediate reversal of fortune heading into Friday's NFCA Leadoff Classic opener against Fordham at Clearwater, Fla.
After opening the season winning four of five games, DePaul went 0-5 last weekend at the Hilton Houston Plaza Invite.
The quickest route to a turnaround goes through the pitching circle. That would entail a return to form by second-team All-American and DePaul ace Kirsten Verdun.
The junior left-hander came away from the Sportco Kick-Off Classic in Las Vegas with a 3-1 record and a 0.31 earned-run average. Last weekend, Verdun was 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA.
"Pitching is the key to ending a losing streak," said DePaul coach Eugene Lenti. "It's up to our pitchers to dominate and win every inning. If they can keep a zero on the scoreboard, we'll find a way to score a run.
"It all comes down to pitching and defense, and the offense has to chip in. We just need our pitchers performing to their capabilities---not above that. If they can pitch to their capabilities, we can take it from there."
Verdun was 2-0 at last year's Leadoff Classic with a three-hit shutout against Massachusetts and allowing one earned run in a win over Mississippi State. Penna fired a four-hit shutout at Hofstra and gave up one hit and one earned run in a victory over Georgia Tech.
Lenti had his team working on all facets of the game this week in preparing for the Leadoff Classic which the Blue Demons won last year.
"We worked on seeing the ball better offensively and keeping our swings short and more compact," Lenti said. "With our pitchers, we watched a lot of film to see where corrections and adjustments can be made.
"The players are working hard and responding to our coaching. They also came in for some extra work on their own."
The DePaul coach wants his players to realize they can't get all five of those losses back at once.
"Everyone takes care of their own responsibilities," Lenti said. "Handle your job and everything else will turn out OK.
"If we play the game the right way and execute properly, you won't have to focus on the win or the loss. Rather than focusing on the result, focus on the process.
"If we can do that, everything will work itself out."
DePaul (4-6) encountered some rugged competition last weekend including two games against No. 6/6 Texas which outscored its five Sportco Classic opponents by a combined score of 52-2.
Five more challenges await the Blue Demons in Florida. Fordham (4-1), James Madison (4-1), UCF (5-5), Pacific (6-2) and No. 15/15 Michigan (6-2) come into the weekend with a combined record of 25-11.
"Once again, it's a tough tournament," Lenti said. "We could go 5-0 or 0-5. Every team we are playing has a .500 record or better. Out of the teams that we're facing, we're the only one with a losing record.
"These teams are good. James Madison beat Syracuse 8-0 and their pitcher threw a one-hitter. Fordham and Pacific have good teams. Central Florida wants us bad after we beat them in Las Vegas. They'll come at us with a healthy and full squad. And Michigan is once again one of the top teams in the country.
"Houston was a critical weekend, but it didn't make or break our season. We can't control what's in the past. We can only go out and control what's ahead of us this weekend."